PHOENIX—The toll of heat-associated deaths in Arizona’s most populous county—still being tallied after the area’s hottest summer ever recorded—has soared over 360, alarming public health officials who say the final count will surely set a new record.
Maricopa County, the hottest metropolitan area in the U.S. and home to Phoenix, recently reported that 361 heat-associated deaths have been confirmed this year as of Oct. 7. Another 238 deaths remained under investigation.
As of the same time last year, 331 heat-associated deaths had been confirmed, with another 126 deaths still being studied. No other major metropolitan area in the U.S. has reported such high figures or spends so much time tracking and studying them.
Maricopa County set an annual record last year with 425 heat-associated deaths confirmed.
This summer, Phoenix experienced the hottest three months since record-keeping began in 1895, including the hottest July and the second-hottest August. The daily average temperature of 97 F in June, July and August passed the previous record of 96.7 F set three years ago.
Phoenix also set a record in July with a 31-day streak of highs at or above 110 F.
Approximately three-fourths of the heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County so far this year were outside. About 44 percent of those who died were people experiencing homelessness in a county where an estimated 10,000 don’t have permanent housing. More than a third of all the people who died were 65 or older.
There have been 89 indoor heat deaths in the county confirmed so far, mostly in homes where the air conditioning was not working or turned off. (AP)